For the dough:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
- 1 package rapid-rise yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup warm water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 teaspoons vegetable oil
For the topping:
- 1 small garlic clove
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs (rosemary,
oregano, thyme or a mixture) (optional)
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
Be sure an adult is nearby to help.
In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, stir together the flour, yeast, sugar and salt.
The warm water must be between 115° and 125°F. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature. Pour the water and olive oil into the flour mixture. Stir with the wooden spoon until a rough, shaggy dough forms.
Knead the dough
Dump the dough onto a work surface. Knead the dough until it is smooth and no longer sticky, about 10 minutes. Flour your hands and the surface only if needed to prevent sticking.
Let the dough rise
Gather the dough into a ball. Wipe out the bowl and oil it with about 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil.
Put the dough into the bowl and turn the ball to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Set the bowl in a warm spot and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Poke the dough with your finger to see if it is ready.
Shape the dough
Oil a baking sheet with 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil. Remove the dough from the bowl, place it on the prepared baking sheet and press gently to deflate the dough.
Using your hands, gently stretch the dough into a 10-by-7-inch oval.
Brush the dough with the remaining 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and cover loosely with a large piece of plastic wrap. Set the pan in a warm spot and let the dough rise until puffed and doubled in size, about 20 minutes.
Prepare the topping
Preheat an oven to 425°F.
Smash the garlic clove on a cutting board with a metal spatula. Peel away the skin. Chop the garlic into small pieces with a large, sharp knife.
In a small bowl, stir together the garlic, herbs and coarse salt with a fork.
Finish and bake the focaccia
When the dough is ready, remove the plastic wrap. Press the tips of your fingers into the dough all over the surface to create dimples. Scatter the garlic mixture evenly over the dough. Drizzle the top of the dough evenly with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
Put the pan in the oven and bake the focaccia until puffed and the top is browned, 25 to 30 minutes.
Using oven mitts, remove the baking sheet from the oven and set it on a wire cooling rack. Drizzle the focaccia evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Makes 1 large focaccia.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kids Baking, by Abigail Johnson Dodge (Oxmoor House, 2003).